The bi-annual Ramsay Art Prize, worth $100,000 Aus. and based in Adelaide, went to Sydney-based artist Sarah Contos for a giant quilt called The Long Kiss Goodbye. Michael Cogger looks at the new award, its winner, and several of the finalists.
“We live in a world where occupations that once seemed reliably perennial, like clerking in a retail store, are suddenly teetering on the brink of extinction. For novelists, whose work typically takes at least a year (and often much longer) to produce, delivering an up-to-date depiction of contemporary life must be a maddeningly elusive goal.”
“When your instruments are human beings, is there a limit to how far you should go? Five choreographers open up about where” – and when and why – “they draw the line.” (Elizabeth Streb’s answer is, of course, that she doesn’t.)
“Here there is no question of a certain person making certain mistakes in certain circumstances. Here we have an across-the-board dismissal of the very idea of progress or improvement, or engineered happiness. So why do we, or some of us, read such material, and read it with appetite?” Tim Parks has an answer.
Actually, not all such depictions sported miniature manhoods. But most of the surviving ones do – and that was a deliberate choice, based on both aesthetic and philosophical ideals. Kerry Sullivan explains. (And no, the likenesses weren’t necessarily meant to be realistic.)
If you’re an architect in the right place and time, you don’t change the world but you do get to build something that reflects the changes that are happening.
“Many societies throughout human history have taken dreams as important, worldly documents. The history of human dreaming shows time and again how dreamers have come to a new understanding about themselves and their world through the processing of their nighttime minds. Dreams have proven to be mental activities through which humans have come to a novel idea, a much-needed methodology, and a revolutionary way of perception.”
Lindsay Grace: “In American University’s Game Lab and Studio, which I direct, we’re creating a wide range of persuasive games to test various strategies of persuasion and to gauge players’ responses. We have developed games to highlight the problems with using delivery drones, encourage cultural understanding and assess understanding of mathematics. And we’re expanding the realm beyond education and health.”
“If a library is just where a society keeps its books, then it’s easy to see why many people no longer perceive libraries as relevant. In the days of yore, a building full of books was a clear metaphor for collective knowledge. But today, knowledge is no longer bound to the printed page, and electronic and non-textual forms of media proliferate. Our cultural knowledge is no longer represented primarily as text within books. Moreover, with the internet, we can access our multimedia cultural knowledge from virtually anywhere.”
“A cognitive scientist looking at [scholar Stephen] Booth’s explanation of Shakespearean effects would spot many concepts from her own discipline. Those include priming – when, after hearing a word, we tend more readily to recognize words that are related to it; expectation – the influence of higher-level reasoning on word recognition; and depth of processing – how varying levels of attention affect the extent of our engagement with a statement. (Shallow processing explains our predisposition to miss the problem of whether a man should be allowed to marry his widow’s sister.)”
Hey, good news: Novelist Emma Straub’s “Books Are Magic is opening in the midst of a renaissance for independent booksellers. The American Booksellers Association counted 1,775 members around the country in 2016, up from 1,410 in 2010.” (Now here’s what to buy from them.)
“At its most general, the hard problem of consciousness is the expression of a familiar kind of puzzlement or mental cramp. We know that the brain is causally responsible, in some way or another, for consciousness – but we remain utterly baffled as to how its fatty, yoghurty matter could be up to the task. The puzzlement is not restricted to philosophers, neuroscientists or those who know a lot about the brain.”
“Italy has over the past two years recruited 20 highly-qualified new directors, seven of them foreigners, to shake up institutions which are richly-endowed with cultural treasures but often poorly run and badly promoted. But a regional court ruled that five of the appointments were null and void, saying that the selection process had not been transparent, that some interviews had been conducted via Skype and that the one foreigner appointed should never have been eligible.”
“The thing that I am branded with and the thing that I am denounced for, I now claim as my own. I am illegitimate, I am ambiguous. In some way I actually claim the right to ambiguity, and the right to clarity. It does me no good to say, ‘Well, I reject this and I reject that.’ I feel free to use everything, or not, as I choose.”
“The extraordinary thing about Beethoven’s hearing loss journey is that he found a way forward at every stage. Once he accepted his deafness at Heiligenstadt, it was no longer a source of shame, and he was open about it from then onwards. Even for the last 10 years of his life, when he could hear nothing, he kept composing. Many people will know the story of his conducting what seems to be an orchestra in his head at the premiere of his 9th Symphony. Eyes still shut, he had to be stopped and shown the smiling musicians, the appreciative audience applauding.”
Angel Gil-Ordóñez: “Authority through knowledge. People respect you if you know what you are asking them to do. Then you have to be able to convey what you want. All simply. Through gestures and communication that goes beyond language. I think the orchestra is the most extraordinary achievement of humanity. Can you imagine something more sophisticated than that? One hundred people without verbal communication playing together for one hour? That goes beyond everything. Beyond thinking. To me [it] is the most incredible achievement. People making music together. It’s a miracle.”
“In its new home, expect LACMA’s permanent collection to break all the rules. The permanent collection won’t exactly be permanent. LACMA instead plans to install the collection as a continuing series of temporary exhibitions — cross-cultural and interdisciplinary. An impermanent permanent collection, the scheme is unprecedented.”
“It may be that our sense of the importance of comic timing comes more from how we perceive jokes than from how they’re delivered. And, for comedians, the timing after the punch line” – as opposed to before, which is what most laypeople assume – “is what really counts.” Thomas MacMillan explains.
The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin had the idea, and it sold out so fast that they added a second date and plan to extend the idea to other cities. What’s more, the Austin Drafthouse’s social media person deftly handled all the male butthurt on Facebook. (includes examples of butthurt)
“The opportunity for us to design a ground-up building for the arts forced us to ask the question: ‘What will art look like in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years?’ And the answer was that we simply could not know. Artists today are working across disciplines, in all media and all sizes. That will continue to change. The one thing that we could always be certain of is that there would always be a need for space, a need for structural loading capacity, and a need for electrical power.”
“[It’s] a device that made millions of devices that work similarly but are slightly different bend to its will. In the age of IFTTT, Alexa, Zapier, and Siri, this device has a surprising amount of value and deserves to be studied. And,” writes Ernie Smith, “I’m just the guy to do it.”
It was by no means a matter of presenting a finished piece to the director and cast: in fact, the actors – especially Chris Cooper, who’s used to working in film – were astonished at how much they were allowed to shape their characters’ lines. Peter Marks reports on the process, which leaned heavily on what Hnath calls “scraps.”
“One thing that makes it a sculpture is that there’s obviously artifice to it. It is artifice posing as a natural phenomenon. It’s obviously been made, but the fiction is that it hasn’t been made. That tension is an important part of the work.”
Earlier this week, in response to the budget the Trump administration submitted to Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities released this statement: “The White House has requested that Congress appropriate approximately $42 million to NEH for the orderly closure of the agency. This amount includes funds to meet [existing] matching grant offers … as well as funds to cover administrative expenses and salaries associated with the closure.” Is the NEH giving up on its own existence? Not really, no, as Jillian Steinhauer reports.
The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, on tour under conductor Osmo Vänskä, had arrived in London and were being featured on BBC Radio 3’s live music-news-and-talk program, In Tune. A small group had just played part of a Mozart flute quintet, and a graduating violinist was about to play a duet with the school’s president, Roberto Díaz, when the announcement came …